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I love Athens: the top places to go recommended by an Athenian

Athens ● 21 September 2018
 
Athens is my favourite city. Although I live here and I have to deal every day with the traffic jam and the long distances, I wouldn't change it. I think Athens is a very interesting, vivid and of course historical city. Athens is not only the obvious part, Acropolis, Plaka and the significant ancient sites. It is also the hidden neighborhoods, the cliffs, the untouched beaches and the places where you feel like having explored a paradise that takes your breath away. This is Athens I adore, and I want to share it with you!

Anafiotika

Under the hill of Acropolis, is located the neighbourhood of Anafiotika, which took its name by the first residents, who built it and came from the Cycladic island of Anafi. Small colourful houses with Cycladic architecture, narrow paved streets, traditional shops, cafés and bars make this district a hidden gem of Athens under the magnificent shade of Acropolis. Just wander around these cobblestone paths, take hundreds of photos and feel the aura under the sacred hill of Acropolis.
Anafiotika

Monastiraki Flea Market

Shopping in Athens is great, and you can find many districts and malls to shop from elegant boutiques or shops with unbelievable deals. The most impressive shopping area in Athens is Monastiraki Flea Market, a marketplace with numerous small, local shops with everything you can imagine. Coins, beads, jewellery, delicacies, books and antiques remind you of the oriental bazaar, with their traditional character of past decades. I can spend there hours, and by searching in the numerous shops, you can find hidden treasures!
Monastiraki

Petralona

On the one side of Filopappos Hill, is located Thiseio, on the other side Petralona. Petralona is a neighbourhood with low-profile, small houses, cafés and bars full of youngsters. From Ano Petralona, you can take the pedestrian road that leads on the top of hill. From up there, the view of whole Athens and the sea is just breathtaking. I discovered this pedestrian by accident, and since then I recommend it everywhere. I wish I had a small house there to overlook Athens the whole day!

Open-air cinemas

In Petralona, there is a retro open-air cinema (Cine Zefyros), which plays cinefile movies in a wonderful setting with lounge chairs and serving souvlakia, while Cine Thisio in Thiseio, is an open-air cinema, which is considered among the best cinemas in the world as CNN recommended it as the most beautiful cinema worldwide thanks to its magnificent view of Acropolis. Cine-Paris in Plaka has also breathtaking view of Acropolis, where you can see movies in their original language with Greek subtitles literally in the shadow of Acropolis. A summer without several times in an open-air cinema I considered it as a lost summer...
Open-air cinema

Koukaki

Airbnb declared Koukaki as one of the best neighbourhoods to live in Europe. With a magnificent view of Acropolis, just near Thiseio and Plaka, Koukaki is a district of past decades. Many neoclassical houses, especially when you approach the pedestrian of Dionysiou Areopagitou, bars, galleries and elegant shops create the scenery of old Athens. I usually eat brunch there with my friends because the pedestrian in Koukaki just near the Museum of Modern Art is full of cafes with delicious delicacies.

Dionysiou Areopagitou Pedestrian

My top of the top street in Athens is the pedestrian of Dionysiou Areopagitou, which begins from the Acropolis Museum and ends in Thiseio, where the street is renamed to Apostolou Paulou. This is by far the best walk in Athens, I try to do it almost every Sunday in order to feel great the week after! You are literally walk with a magnificent view of the Acropolis in a wonderful pedestrian with flowers, trees and luxury, neoclassical houses. Then, you reach Thiseio, and the street is full of bars, taverns and cafés. In this street, is also located the entrance to Pnyx.

Ancient Agora

By far my favourite ancient site! Ancient Agora (Athens) is a top archaeological site in Athens. Start from Temple of Hephaestus (I love it because it is maybe the best-preserved temple in Greece) and follow the steps of ancient Athenians to their daily hangout. Ancient Agora (Athens) was the heart of ancient Athens, the focus of political, commercial and social activity, the religious and cultural centre. Visit the Stoa of Attalos, which now functions as the museum of the site and walk across the Panathenaic Way admiring the important monuments that represent the essence of democracy. This is my next stop after having walked in Dionysiou Areopagitou.

Technopolis

The district of Gazi, near Keramikos Archealogical site, is being dominated by Technopolis-Industrial Gas Museum. There, you can see the gas production line as well as the preserved machinery and equipment of old gasworks that constituted the factory of gas for the Greek capital during the 19th and early 20th century. Today, Technopolis has become a hub for cultural events, concerts and performing acts, giving Athens a modern industrial character. Don't forget to visit the museum's shop, which is known for its innovative objects available for sale. Drawing inspiration from the industrial exhibits of the museum, the objects are produced by Greek handicrafts, and among them, are jewellery and ergonomic decorative objects.

Technopolis

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Greek Festival  is a cultural institution, which hosts major Greek and worldwide famous performing artists in ancient theatre performances in their original scenes. Every summer, from June to October, spectators have the privilege to watch memorable productions of ancient drama in Greek language, with English hyper titles. Thus, also the travellers in Greece have the opportunity to watch the ancient drama and feel the aura of the glorious antiquity, which gave birth to magnificent classic masterpieces that are being admired till today. Since 1955, the Greek festival takes place mainly in the ancient theatre of Epidavros and in Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is on the cliff of Acropolis, just near the ancient theatre of Dionysus, where ancient Athenians watched the performances we all know today, like Medea of Euripides and Antigone of Sophocles. You can watch there also great concerts with international well-known artists. It is very touching to watch a performance near their original place of birth!
Acropolis and Odeon of Herodus Atticus

Lycabettus Hill

In the area of Kolonaki, is located the Lycabettus Hill, from which you will have a breathtaking view of Athens. You can take the cable car and enjoy this view, drinking coffee or eating in the luxurious restaurant that you will find on the top of the hill. The view is magnificent, and although I have been there numerous times, I love it every time even more!
Lycabettus Hill

Athens Riviera

Yes, in Athens, you can also swim, sunbathe and generally enjoy the sea just a few kilometers from Athens center. The top place to do so is Athens Riviera, the coastline that starts from Piraeus, passes from the suburbs Faliro, Alimos, Elliniko, Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni and ends in Cape Sounio, where the Aegean Sea begins. Athens Riviera is marked by an amazing coastline, wonderful beaches with pine trees and water sports amenities, as well as archaeological points of interests, such as the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio and the Temple of Apollo Zoster in Asteras Hotel.
In Athens Riviera, there are also many bars, night clubs and chic restaurants for unforgettable moments under the stars. Generally, some of the wonderful beaches of Attica are in the coast of Athens Riviera. The beaches of Anavyssos, Thimari and of course Sounio, where you can have an amazing view of the temple of Poseidon on the cliff, overlooking the Aegean Sea, are so beautiful that they can literally compete the beaches of Cyclades.
Athens Riviera

If you want to swim in a peaceful scenery, away from the crowds, Vouliagmeni Lake is also a nice spot for swimming in crystal waters and sunbathing in Athens Riviera. At the lake, a rare geological phenomenon waits to be discovered. The waters are continuously refreshed by the sea, which is next to the lake, as well as by the underground thermal springs. At the edge of the lake, near the impressive rocks, starts a labyrinth-like underwater cave with 14 tunnels. Among them, there is one, which reaches the 800 meters, making it the longest in the world. There is also a huge stalagmite in the cave, which gives the lake a mysterious and interesting character. The living world of the lake includes a variety of unique organisms, living in the green waters of this aquatic paradise. Among them, you can admire a sea anemone, species of sponges and molluscs and the fish Garra Rufa, which is known worldwide because it provides skin exfoliation and it is used in many fish spas. 

Temple of Poseidon, Sounio

Regarding to the beaches and the excursions you can do in Athens, your options are also numerous. In my opinion, an amazing day excursion is the visit of the ancient temple of Poseidon in Sounio. You can take the bus from Athens Center, and in about 1,5 hour, you will be at the cape of Athens, which has a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea. The route to Sounio is wonderful as you admire the whole coastline of Athens, the famous Athens Riviera. When you reach Sounio, you can visit the ancient temple, swim in the beach right under the hill, which has the crystal waters of the Aegean Sea, and then, eat seafood and drink ouzo in one of the traditional taverns there. Swimming on the beach under the temple, visiting this significant monument and enjoying the view as well as eating mezedes in a tavern by the sea is a once in a lifetime experience you will always remember.

Temple of Poseidon

Temple of Artemis, Vravrona

The ancient Temple of Artemis is located in Vravrona, on the eastern side of Attica, in a close distance to the Airport of Athens (Greece). In the archaeological site of the temple, you can explore in addition to the temple, the sanctuary of Ifigeneia, the gymnasium and other ancient buildings, and there is also an Archaeological Museum with many findings of the area. The landscape is astonishing, full of trees and a small river crossing the site. After this, you can swim in a beach in Porto Rafti, Loutsa or Rafina, which are located nearby. I recommend you the beach of Chamolia in Vravrona, which is a totally undiscovered place, where you can enjoy the sea away from tourists especially in the low season.

Parnitha Mountain

Athens is surrounded by three mountains (Parnitha, Imittos and Penteli). Parnitha has been declared a national park with many species of flora and fauna. Hiking on this mountain is a great experience due to the breathtaking view of the whole city and the Argosaronic Gulf, the exploration of beautiful hiking paths, the walk together with many animals, such as birds, deers and hares, as well as the feeling that you are totally inside the nature, only 10-20 km from Athens Center. It is a top excursion from Athens I highly recommend. On Mountain Parnitha, in addition to hiking, you can also explore the Summer Palace of the Greek Royal Family in Tatoi. It is a historical place, which includes the abandoned buildings of the palace and the outbuildings of the former Greek Royal Family, which left Greece in 1973. The buildings are outstanding, and the walk in this huge estate is impressive thanks to the beautiful, natural scenery and the history behind this place.
Parnitha

Where to Stay

Hotel in Athens, Greece Carolina Hotel
8.8 10
Carolina Hotel
55, Kolokotroni str., 10560 Athens, Greece

Hotel Carolina is strategically located in the center of Athens, just 500 m from the lively Monastiraki Square and 200 m from Ermou shopping street. The main square of Athens, Syntagma, is a 10-minute walk away. Plaka, the historic part of Athens, is a 15-minute walk away. Athens International Airport is at 43 km.

Hostel in Athens, Greece Student and Travellers Inn
8.9 10
Student and Travellers Inn
16, Kidathinaion str., 10558 Athens, Greece

Student and Travellers Inn – the first hostel in Greece since 1977 is located in the heart of Plaka, right below the Acropolis. Traditional cobbled streets full of taverns, shops, cafes are right at our hostel's doorstep. The main square of Athens, Syntagma, is at 600 m, while the lively Monastiraki square is at 800 m. The nearest metro station and the bus stop for the X95 Airport Bus can be reached within a 7-minute walk.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Claridge Hotel
6.3 10
Claridge Hotel
4, Dorou Str., 10431 Athens, Greece

Claridge Hotel is located in the center of Athens, just a 2-minute walk from Omonoia Metro Station, which connects directly to Piraeus Port. Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" is 36 km away.#


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